Summer 2016 – From the Heart

Well, I woke up earlier than usual this morning due mostly to another spot of illness.  That’s generally quite unusual for me, although I have just had two episodes in the last two weeks. I mostly just wake up still aching!  I work harder than my body can cope with, but my theory is that that’s the way to make it ultimately stronger.  My ankle still has it’s moments, but more worrying at the moment is that the big toe of my poorly foot is developing an area of numbness from it’s tip and down one side.  Although this doesn’t hinder my ability anymore than the injury to the ankle itself, it is something I need to get checked out.  The nerve damage to my ankle may never fully recover, and that concerns me when it comes to my unbend-able big toe going numb.  It is difficult getting to the doctors during this hot weather when they are actually open, as I can’t leave Bob in the caravan, anymore than I would ever leave him in the car at the doctors surgery.  Thanks to a very good friend, I now have an appointment booked.

Weather July 2015Moving on to the topic of the weather, this recent spell of good weather has been an absolute blessing, and things are really starting to move along.  As you may well remember if you visited last year in July or August, or read last year’s ‘There Goes Summer’ update, it was a very frustrating summer up here in 2015.  The weather through most of July and August saw us sat mostly in good old Cornish mizzle.  Conditions improved to give us a brief respite through September and October, but then the really persistent wind and rain set in from November through to the end of March this year.  During that period of weather we experienced many 50 mile an hour wind storms, but one helluva 80 mile an hour storm.  That was a fierce northerly that cause a fair bit of damage across the west country, and in particular parts of Cornwall.  The static caravan, although chained down, was definitely being tugged about at the bed end!  It was like trying to sleep in the cabin of an overnight ferry crossing on an equally stormy night.  I’ll just call it VERY entertaining!!

In early June I had another visit from Planning Enforcement.  Another complaint.  Apparently I’m not going fast enough.  Well, blow me! I’m one woman and her clamps.  I’m going as fast as I can! Suffice to say, there are other extraneous circumstances, not just that I am rehabilitating after a serious accident that saw me classed as 52% disabled by a top doctor, just 3 short years ago.  I’m going above and beyond what my body can cope with, and I’m mostly doing it through dogged-determination and Yorkshire grit!  If you are in any way worried by what you believe I am doing here, or just have some questions about my ambitions for Axe Head Farm as a business, I’m more than happy to address them.  Just pop in or email or call.  I’m quite happy to give you an explanation of where I am heading.  We have nothing to hide.  Get to know us and give us a chance.  That’s what I would do anyhow.

Hammerhead1Anyway, so far this year, great progress has been made.  The view when you look in through the gate has dramatically altered!  The hammerhead of the farm track finally started drying out regularly enough from late March to get some repair work done to it, to strengthen it after having the electricity board on the land mid November (it was a pretty wet and wild day!) and the service finally connected in early December 2015.  The arrival of reliable and constant power was revolutionary for us.  I still smile when I think of the 8 months that I did staying up here with only a couple of hours power each day, and coping with a warm shower only on the days that the sun was out and strong enough to heat the water up in the hose!  Otherwise a shower was either super-chilly, chilly or almost bearable! Having power also meant that chickens were possible, moving on to eventually having pigs, goats, geese and alpacas.  Adrian had a dream one night, early on in the research and planning process, that alpacas could teleport, making fencing for them totally futile!  Once teleported from one side of the locked gate to the other, they then grin at you inanely!  I guess it takes a particular type of person to take on this life.  Slight leanings toward a kind of sane insanity, definitely helps!!  Work on the pig pastures has started, with other areas of fencing also going up, and trellis/supports planned hither and tither for vines, soft fruits etc… Some very exciting things coming up.

Another huge leap forward since the dry-spell started has included me putting my ‘digger driver’ cap on for two weeks.  In the fortnight we got loads done.  In the second week I was joined by a friend who put them self on dumper duty and bob looking out for duty.  The water supply now easily reaches both the poly tunnel and the first pig pasture.  What was lovingly referred to as the ‘sand dunes’, an area just inside the middle field created by randomly dumping the diggings out of the farm track, has now been reworked/flattened to now be known by us as the ‘bowling green’.  As you walk between the newly created berms and the Cornish hedges leading through the old gateway, you can often catch sight of a few varying sized rabbits, laiking out on the warm, currently exposed soil, sunbathing.  One of the biggest issues with the rabbits is that they dig in to the Cornish hedges, creating a fairly large warren, destabilising the hedge.  With the hedges being good boundaries, hollowed out, they are extremely prone to collapse, and therefore, unreliable boundaries for livestock.  In order to work with the rabbits as far as we can we have a lot of stock and rabbit fencing to erect!

MedlarThrough the winter months, and thanks to our neighbours Rob and Carol, we have planted 1,800 trees to provide windbreaks.  We’ve also been busy moving berms and recreating them to add interest to the land, whilst adding even more shelter too.  When we were looking at land initially, we really wanted somewhere that had a small bit of woodland, or a lovely copse, but other than the hedges, Axe Head Farm is barren of trees.  Our neighbours have a woodland and when we go and visit them, the woods are part of the route.  It’s such a treat!  So, being as we are building our dream, it’s only right that we add to the tree population, and in addition, we are adding to what our neighbours have started.  We look forward to seeing updates on Google Maps, because it still shows on there as a ploughed axe!  An updated image will show the early days of development at the land formerly known as ‘Viscar Fields’, becoming Axe Head Farm.

Good friends of ours have been over to visit from Newquay recently, Martyn and Martina.  They run a Cornish based foodie business, and just recently at a BBQ, Adrian impressed them with his ‘clear to me’ culinary gift.  No small thing given that Martyn is a chef, and their company is called The Secret Chef!  Their range is full of truly scrumptious products.  Check out their website, ‘Secret Chef’.  It is well worth a visit!  Walking round the farm together and talking about the vision of our heads is one of our favourite pastimes.  Seeing it slowly evolve and appear from the ground up is one of our greatest pleasures.  Sharing it with people is simply awesome, as to us, it truly is a lovely place to be.  Walking around with Martyn and Martina is always inspiring, and always are plans are added to and/or updated, each and every time we are all together.  It has already been a great summer for us for visitors, with the last 3 or 4 weeks being filled with friends, family, a BBQ and more.  That too, is all part of the dream for us.

Poly tunnel updated 2aToday was the day we had earmarked for getting the hot-spot tape on the poly tunnel, however, the weather has different plans.  It’s quickly gone from mizzle to a more persistent rain.  Instead, Adrian is researching more product ideas for his forthcoming business, whilst I blog about the progress being made on my new business, building a farm/smallholding from my caravan in the field.  Once it eases off again, or even brightens up, we are off out to mark out the perimeter fence posts for the soft fruits/herbs area for Adrian’s needs.  That will enable me to start construction on the supports etc… required, and to build the quail enclosure.  So excited about quail.  They are so darned cute, and of course, I will make it as authentic as possible for them, whilst protecting them for their survival.

Once the poly tunnel is covered over and ready for use, we have the tremendous joy of getting it set up to Adrian’s specification, and getting cracking with huge task of creating a harvest to start creating the foodie stuff in Adrian’s head, in to real life taster products of future lines.  It’s great that it is all getting that little bit closer again.  We have bailed on the option of getting a crew of people together to put the cover on the poly tunnel, as we have found someone who will do it on his own and for a very reasonable price.  This also means, that with at least the base infrastructure of the farm track down, we can start on creating the apron and barn.  The frame of our barn is metal, and will require some big toys to put together.  Meccano on a massive scale!  I won’t be learning to operate those toys – boo hiss!  It is one thing to earn new caps, but safety on a structure that size is paramount, so I’m happy to leave that bit to the experts.

MapleThe visitors pick up again after a couple of quiet weeks, and I’m looking forward to sharing Axe Head Farm with more first time visitors, and if I’m cheeky (which be warned if you’re coming, I am!), get a helping hand on one or two of the many more two-people jobs, were my handy clamps that usually work, just don’t cut the mustard!  My eldest lad will be down for a couple of weeks very soon, and as he’s grown up, he’s shown himself more and more to be a fine young lad.  In fact, I believe I’m very lucky with both my boys.  Fine young men.  With Finn down we will be able to get a good bit done, and yet more stuff will spring up from the ground.  Both boys are more than happy to put in a shift to cover their staying here, and they are getting stronger and fitter from helping out!  Two of the very first trees planted here at Axe Head Farm were a Medlar and a Maple.  Each one chosen and planted by our boys to connect them to the farm.

I feel very proud of what I have personally achieved here so far.  I seem to have earned a dozen new caps to swap between, just from having an attitude of ‘I can do that’.  Most recently, I earned my ‘mechanics cap’ for fixing our tractor mower.  After an initial lesson with my neighbour Rob, on taking the cutting deck off, and what all the bits are, I’ve replaced the engine pulley, the Kevlar belt and the blade, mostly on my own, so we can mow again.  I’ve just spent the last two days fixing the mower (with a little help undoing the blade nut from Rob, and his assistance putting it back together!), and mowing all the areas that affect the aesthetics of the farm from the gate.  Both Adrian and I are totally committed to making sure that everything we do, doesn’t have the affect of bringing down the look of the area, but to improve the lands aesthetic value by adding to it.  My creative side comes out, as does Adrian’s, and we are creating a place that people will want to visit and come back to.  It’s a beautiful sight from the gate when it’s all trimmed and tidy, and yes, I am totally, 100% biased!  I’ve always taken pride in my work!

So, onward and upwards.  There is much more still to do.  I look forward to giving an update again soon.  I also hope to give the idea of vlogging a go, although, my shyness does get in the way with that!  Thank you for following us on our journey.  Thank you for taking the time to read about what we are doing.